Our Team

Lifeskills South Florida Staff Overview

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Chief Executive Officer

Klay Weaver, LCSW

Outpatient Primary Therapist

Amy Max, MSW, DBT-Intensively Trained

Primary Therapist

Arthur Chen, PsyD, CCTP-II

Intake Coordinator

Barbra Quirk, BS

Daytime Residential Supervisor

Bill Kovach

Alumni Relations Coordinator

Brandi Petitti

Yoga Instructor

Buffy Rouse

Outpatient Primary Therapist

Celin Thomas, MS

VA Support Staff & Weekend Supervisor

Christopher Jackson, MA, PsyD-ABD

Medical Director

Daniel Bober, DO

Evening Shift Supervisor

Daniel Thacker

Director of Family Services

Daron Flory, DMFT, LMFT, MedFT

Director of Quality Improvement & Utilization Review

David Duquette, PsyD

Clinical Director

David Ockman, PsyD, CAP

Admissions Counselor

Denise Etherton, MA, LPC

Primary Therapist

Despina Karfis, PsyD, DBT-Intensively Trained

Family Therapist

Esther Entin, MSW 

Primary Therapist

Florin Coltea, PhD, LMHC, CAP, NCC

Personal Trainer

Heather Wright, ISSA

Primary Therapist

Jason Weed, LMHC, EMDR-Trained

Director of Residential Operations

Joe Soutar, CRRA

PHP Supervisor

John Mills

Admissions Counselor

Jorge A. Vázquez-López, BA

Admissions Counselor

Kaleigh Dietz, MEd, CRC

Nutritionist

Karen Gauci, MPH, RD, LD

Director of Nursing

Michelle Williams, RN-BC

Primary Therapist

Marie Valsaint, PsyD

Lead Admissions Counselor

Lara Eisenberg, MSW

Associate Clinical Director

Kristen Gurdak, PhD-ABD, LCSW

Family Therapist

Krista Valz, PsyD, CRT-Trained

Outpatient Primary Therapist

Reid Boland, MS, LMHC, REBT-Trained

Group Leader

Rabbi Brandon Gaines

Primary Therapist

Nicolle Goldfinger, PsyD

Family Therapist

Mirella Ezeta, PsyD

Director of Outpatient Services

Miguel Nerys, LMHC, NCC, DBT-Intensively Trained, EMDR-Trained

Osceola House Manager

Ted Monticello, BS

Primary Therapist

Tara Alhadeff, LMHC, CAI, DBT-Intensively Trained

Alumni Relations Manager

Stefan Glamp

Outpatient Lead Clinician/Family Therapist

Sheryl Gross, MS

Chief Operating Officer

Sergio Muriel, LMHC, CAP

Primary Therapist

Sandra Bernstein, LCSW, REBT-Trained, DBT-Intensively Trained

Primary Therapist

Robert Bruno, PsyD

Chief Executive Officer

Klay Weaver, LCSW

With over 25 years of behavioral healthcare management experience, including over 18 years in executive leadership, Klay joined Lifeskills South Florida in 2015 as its Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining Lifeskills, he served as the COO of Skyland Trail, where he oversaw the organization’s strategic growth, financial operations, clinical operations, and marketing. With roots in community mental health, Klay led two of the largest community mental health centers in the state of Georgia, providing services to over 17,000 individuals annually in 11 counties.

Klay received a Bachelor of Arts in Education and an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary and an M.S.W. from the University of Kentucky. A licensed social worker for more than 20 years, he has enjoyed being active in the community serving on multiple non-profit boards including the Red Cross, Georgia Community Service Board Association, and most recently on the Delray Drug Task Force.

Outpatient Primary Therapist

Amy Max, MSW, DBT-Intensively Trained

As a primary therapist at Lifeskills South Florida, Amy works with clients in group and individual settings. She utilizes a strengths-based, non-judgmental and supportive approach in order to empower clients to move towards their goals. Amy uses a variety of evidence-based interventions such as CBT to help individuals explore different perspectives so they may develop more positive and accepting views of themselves.

Amy earned her Master’s of Social Work from Florida Atlantic University, as well as a graduate degree certificate in Addiction. Amy plans to continue her work towards earning her LCSW.

Amy considers herself a foodie and enjoys trying new restaurants, as well as cooking and entertaining. She loves traveling, watching movies, and running outdoors. Mostly, she loves spending time with her family and making memories.

Primary Therapist

Arthur Chen, PsyD, CCTP-II

Dr. Arthur Chen has two master’s degrees in psychology (Master of Applied Psychology with a specialization in Counseling and a Master of Clinical Psychology) along with a Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology. He serves as a  full-time clinician at Lifeskills South Florida where is oversees the Clinical Trauma Pathway and conducts psychological testing. Moreover, he is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional – Level 2 (CCTP-II) with the International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP). CCTP – II is the highest certification in trauma obtainable by the IATP. He is also intensively trained in Exposure with Response Prevention (ExRP) for the treatment of OCD. In addition to his years of experience working with eating disorders, primary mental health, and substance abuse, Dr. Chen has worked with patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety (including Generalized Anxiety and Phobias), depression, thought disorders, and personality disorders.  He also serves as an Associate Professor of Psychology at Broward College.

Dr. Chen has presented at psychology conferences throughout the United States. He is fluent in both English and Mandarin. He is also passionate about giving back to the community and has volunteered with various charities in South Florida. Dr. Chen facilitates regular training, including mental health education and hostage negotiations, to local police departments throughout South Florida. He has been a Big Brother through the Big Brother Big Sister Program of America for the last 16 years. He was very honored to have been the nominee for the Men with Caring Hearts Outstanding Male Volunteer Award given by the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Boca Raton, FL in 2016. In his off time, Dr. Chen is an avid outdoorsman, including a passion for automotive racing, motorcycling, and horseback riding. He has ridden horseback throughout the United States, South Africa, and Costa Rica.

Intake Coordinator

Barbra Quirk, BS

Barbra joins the Lifeskills team as an Intake Coordinator, where she welcomes clients to Lifeskills and guides them through the intake process. Barbra brings past experiences working for a non-profit organization delivering substance abuse prevention programming to young adults, families, and teachers within the South Florida community. She approaches her work with a warm, caring, and open attitude to provide the best care and welcoming environment to clients here at Lifeskills. Barbra received her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Social Welfare from Florida State University. She is currently working towards her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Lynn University. In her free time, Barbra enjoys listening to music, going to the beach, and spending time with her friends and family.

Daytime Residential Supervisor

Bill Kovach

As the Daytime Residential Supervisor, Bill utilizes his training in DBT interventions and crisis prevention while working one on one with clients fighting through adversity, resolving interpersonal conflicts that arise in residential treatment settings, and organizing the client community to appropriate participation, redirecting maladaptive behaviors. Ten years ago, he left a comfortable position at a business run by friends to pursue a passion for helping others. He has cared for individuals of all ages battling mental illness, substance abuse, dual diagnosis, and comorbid medical issues, and he has served as liaison to families. Bill was also the Director of Safety and Security at an adolescent mental health and substance abuse treatment facility. He is experienced with the licensing and accreditation process with DCF and JACOH. His goal is always to ensure that our clients are safe and to seamlessly coordinate with clinical staff to maximize the client’s treatment experience and promote healing.

Alumni Relations Coordinator

Brandi Petitti

Brandi Petitti leads Lifeskills South Florida efforts in serving and guiding the Alumni and Alumni Family communities. She has served within various leadership roles throughout her career and has hands-on experience working in the mental health/addiction field with multiple positions of service. Brandi’s empathy, compassion, and consistent source of stability have provided her to be a beacon of hope in many people’s lives. Her many talents include her ability to engage people on their specific recovery journey, leadership, outreach, and crisis management. Brandi’s belief is that Lifeskills South Florida treatment works, and that long-term recovery is an attainable life goal.

Yoga Instructor

Buffy Rouse

As a lifelong dancer, singer, and creative artist with a degree in Psychology, Buffy completed her Yoga Teacher Certification in 2016 at the 500-hour level under Philip Christodoulou of Anuttara Yoga Shala. Certified in Hatha, Vinyasa, and Anuttara Raja Yoga (Kriya), her teaching experience includes Yoga Basics and Alignment, Mindfulness Meditation, Hatha, Vinyasa, Raja, and Yoga Barre at commercial studios, treatment centers, and as a guest teacher for the Dance Department at Broward College. With a deep love of the creative-expressive and healing arts, Buffy experienced the transformation power of yoga first-hand and embraced its connection with music, dance, and psychology. From this platform she encourages the use of intention and imagination, mindfulness and conscious breathing, yogic philosophy, and asana to initiate the healing process from the inside out.

Outpatient Primary Therapist

Celin Thomas, MS

Celin is committed to providing an atmosphere that fosters authenticity and encourages individuals to not only reflect, but feel their emotions without reservation. She supports her clients in exploring and strengthening their relationship with themselves and others, developing skills needed to enhance emotional awareness, and navigating life’s past wounds and present stressors. Celin strives to offer her clients with new perspectives so that they are able to gain insight and make meaningful changes.

Celin utilizes a strengths-based approach as it empowers clients to recognize their own courage and resilience. She enjoys working from a client-centered and collaborative lens to meet the needs of her clients and values culturally sensitive therapy as it is vital in understanding how a client’s background and belief system impacts their worldview. Celin is influenced by therapeutic approaches such as Family Systems Theory, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Narrative Therapy. Celin obtained her Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Healthcare from the University of South Florida and earned her Master of Science in Family Therapy from Nova Southeastern University. She is continuing to work towards her LMFT. Celin has a deep love for music, and enjoys spending time with loved ones, baking desserts, and practicing calligraphy.

VA Support Staff & Weekend Supervisor

Christopher Jackson, MA, PsyD-ABD

Christopher Jackson served 7 years of active duty in the Air Force followed by 3 years in the Army Reserves. He is an accomplished speaker, trainer, and practitioner in the art of Verbal De-escalation with a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Conflict Resolution and Mediation from Regis University. Chris started learning to calm those in crisis as a law enforcement officer from 1996 to 2005. After this on-the-job training, he decided to immerse himself in the academic knowledge of managing human conflict. After completing an undergrad in Communication and a graduate degree in Dispute Resolution, he worked as a Community Mediator and a Mental Health Counselor. He is completing his Doctorate in Conflict Psychology and designs training in Verbal De-escalation & Empathetic Policing for law enforcement agencies and facilitates conflict dialogues for universities and other organizations. Chris draws upon his extensive experience to build rapport with those in conflict and to use that common ground to resolve issues that at one time seemed insurmountable. At Lifeskills South Florida, Chris supervises weekend operations and serves as a liaison between clients/family members and identifies and resolves client issues. Chris utilizes his education and experience to improve the client and family experiences at Lifeskills South Florida. Working as an Anger Management facilitator afforded Chris the opportunity to interact with the diversity of people that comes with living in an urban epicenter. As a Peacebuilder, Chris excels in his work with large group conflict. He has facilitated large groups through peace-building processes at a variety of higher education institutions experiencing seemingly intractable conflict impacting campus communities. More recently, Chris has been teaching Verbal De-escalation to nursing organizations, among others, to share his wisdom and experience in community de-escalation to others in high crisis working environments.

Medical Director

Daniel Bober, DO

Dr. Bober attended medical school at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his adult/child/adolescent psychiatry training at the Yale University School of Medicine and a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.

Dr. Bober served as a mental health policy fellow in the U.S. Senate through the American Psychiatric Association and the Yale University School of Medicine. While in Congress he championed the cause of veterans and active duty service members with mental illness. Dr. Bober currently holds a faculty appointment as an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale Child Study Center.

In treating adults, Dr. Bober’s clinical interest and expertise lay in working with individuals that have addiction, trauma and personality disorders. His is career has afforded him the opportunity to treat co-occurring disorders in inpatient, outpatient and research settings.

He is Board Certified in General Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Forensic Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and he is certified in Obesity Medicine through the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Additionally, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine, Dr. Bober is a Certified Addiction Medicine physician. He belongs to several professional societies including American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child, and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

DrBober.com

Evening Shift Supervisor

Daniel Thacker

Daniel came to Lifeskills South Florida in January 2010, with over 40 years of experience in the field of mental health and substance abuse. He has worked with Severely Emotionally Disturbed adolescents and developed group home programs with the Children’s Psychiatric Center in Miami. Daniel spent 18 years working at psychiatric hospitals in the Palm Beach County area before his arrival at Lifeskills South Florida. As the evening supervisor, he oversees our clients and ensures they are attending their needed outside meetings. As a former CPI instructor, he brings years of experience in the art of verbal de-escalation and the ability to assess those in need. Along with the evening shift, he also supervises our overnight shift and assists in the staff scheduling. Dan Thacker is a US veteran, as he is retired Coast Guard.

Director of Family Services

Daron Flory, DMFT, LMFT, MedFT

Dr. Daron Flory came to Lifeskills of South Florida with over a decade of experience in mental health and marriage and family therapy. After attaining his Bachelors in Psychology from Auburn University, Daron attained his Masters of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northern Illinois University. After several years of experience in community-based therapy with adults and in private practice serving couples and families in Nashville, Daron relocated to South Florida to attain his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Marriage and Family Therapy and Medical Family Therapy. He is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist, holds the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation, and is nationally trained as a level II EMDR therapist; further, Daron has specialties in Emotionally-focused therapy, Solution-focused therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. His therapeutic approach involves meeting the family and its members “where they are” and collaboratively working to evolve the family system toward a working order.

Personally, Daron was a former soccer and rugby player in college and continues an active lifestyle. Daron enjoys traveling and the beach. He is a husband and father to two boys.

Director of Quality Improvement & Utilization Review

David Duquette, PsyD

Dr. Duquette, Director of Quality Improvement and Utilization Review at Lifeskills South Florida, earned his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Carlos Albizu University and completed his pre-doctoral internship at South Florida State Hospital. Prior to joining Lifeskills, he was the Utilization Review Manager at the largest community mental health center in Colorado, where he authorized all levels of mental health services for Medicaid consumers. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in obtaining authorizations from private insurance companies.

Clinical Director

David Ockman, PsyD, CAP

Dr. Ockman, a licensed Psychologist, and Certified Addictions Professional, has worked in the field of mental health and addiction for more than 20 years, beginning his career in 1993. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Florida International University, a Masters and Doctoral degrees from The Miami Institute of Psychology, and has been licensed as a Psychologist since 2002.

Dr. Ockman brings a broad range of experiences to his role at Lifeskills South Florida focused primarily on the Substance Use Disorder track which includes clinical, supervisory and administrative capacities in therapeutic/residential communities, hospital settings, IOP and state regulatory positions. He has spent most of his career utilizing CBT and MET modalities and finding ways to provide the most effective interventions for patients and their families.

Dr. Ockman spent seven years as one of the supervising Psychologists of interns and residents for an APPIC approved program. He was born and raised in South Florida and enjoys finding great places in Florida to take the family.

Admissions Counselor

Denise Etherton, MA, LPC

Denise has worked in the mental health space for over 20 years. She is an experienced Admissions Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, and mental health advocate. She takes pride in providing education about the best care possible for those seeking mental health and substance abuse treatment. Her passion is to pave the way to hope and healing for potential clients and families who are navigating the treatment world at Lifeskills.

In undergraduate school, she holds a double major in Psychology & Criminal Justice from Lindenwood University. She also holds a graduate degree in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) through the State of Missouri and telehealth for Florida. Her treatment modalities include CBT & ACT along with mindfulness training.

She is a married mother of 4 children and 2 dogs (Kylo Ren, the Goldador and Baxter the Shorkie). She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, watching true crime documentaries (this makes her husband nervous), being with family and friends, and going to the beach and theme parks.

Primary Therapist

Despina Karfis, PsyD, DBT-Intensively Trained

Dr. Despina Karfis has had her doctorate in clinical psychology for 15 years. In addition, she has been working with clients with mental health issues and substance dependency for over twenty years.  Dr. Karfis earned her Doctorate and Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology and has made strides using cognitive behavioral therapy and other evidenced based modalities.  She has received specialized training in Forensic Psychology and has special talents in working with those suffering from traumatic events.  She completed an APA accredited internship and a dissertation called:  “A Relapse Prevention Program for the Prevention of Eating Disorders”.  Dr. Karfis is known to be a professional who is skilled for working with the most challenging clients and enjoys monitoring their success through measurable outcomes.   She enjoys “traveling and  spending time with her two children and husband, playing board games, watching movies, sports, dining out and building happy memories”.

Family Therapist

Esther Entin, MSW 

Esther Entin is a Family Therapist at Lifeskills South Florida. She earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from the Wurzweiller School of Social Work at Yeshiva University in New York. Esther’s work focusing on the family is integral in promoting recovery, related to both mental health and addiction issues. She takes an evidenced-based approach to family work. Her use of structural and systemic therapies leads to long-lasting improvements in family dynamics and communication. She is known for motivating change in family systems and supporting those in challenging times. When not working with clients and their families, Esther enjoys spending time with her husband, their four children, and grandchildren. 

Primary Therapist

Florin Coltea, PhD, LMHC, CAP, NCC

Dr. Florin Coltea earned a Ph.D. In psychology with a specialization in addiction and was trained in the “Scholar-Practitioner model”. Dr. Coltea has been treating addiction and mental health disorders for over 20 years. He is a licensed mental health counselor and is a Certified Addictions Professional and Qualified Supervisor in the state of Florida. He also has experience and expertise in neurodevelopmental disorders and in the use of ABA therapy. He has held leadership positions and Cognitive Remediation is his special interest as it is especially effective for many clients at Lifeskills South Florida. In addition, Dr. Coltea is a professor and has published research on the experience of recovery from opioid addiction. When not working with patients, Florins’ most favorite thing is taking his wife and 2 kids on vacations to Europe.

Personal Trainer

Heather Wright, ISSA

Heather has worked in the fitness industry for over 28 years and has been a nationally certified personal trainer for the past 17 years. She specializes in weight management, endurance, strength, and sports specific training. The Metabolic Fitness groups that she facilitates at Lifeskills are specifically tailored to meet the needs of the individual client in weight loss, increasing strength, regaining balance and coordination, or improving flexibility. The goal is to make sure the clients fitness needs are met and to improve their overall self-esteem, health, and wellness. Increasing self-confidence, mind-body awareness and mastery of skill are at the heart of Heather’s’ work.

Primary Therapist

Jason Weed, LMHC, EMDR-Trained

Jason Weed is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of Florida who has experience treating adolescents, adults, and families seeking help with depression, anxiety, life transitions, Trauma, men/women’s issues, and relationship issues. He completed his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from South University and received his Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from South University. Jason has completed both his Part 1 & Part 2 trainings in EMDR through EMDRIA’s institute making him an EMDR trained Clinician.  Jason utilizes relational, collaborative, strength-based, cognitive behavioral, mindfulness based, solution-focused and emotionally focused approaches to therapy always maintaining the creativity, flexibility, and awareness necessary to best meet the needs of every unique individual and couple. Jason seeks to establish a warm and caring relationship with you in order to assist in building on your strengths and better collaborate with you towards meeting your goals and living the meaningful life you value and desire.

Director of Residential Operations

Joe Soutar, CRRA

Born and educated in the U.K., Joe has worked extensively in an operations role in the mental health and substance abuse field. His experience includes working as a director for inpatient detox and crisis stabilization through every level in the continuum of care. As an advocate for spirituality through the 12-Step model, and simultaneous neutralization of co-occurring dual diagnosis profiles, Joe works passionately to advance the quality of support offered to each client he oversees. Joe has served as a line of communication between clinical staff and clients and has focused on cases of high acuity and chronic relapse. He has worked closely with the FARR certification body, as well as DCF and JCAHO, and has acted as an educator to direct care staff through training and management. Joe is a Certified Recovery Residence Administrator (CRRA) through the Crisis Prevention Institute in the safe management of disruptive behavior. Joe also assists in the management of the transitional living program at Osceola House. As a Residential Supervisor at Lifeskills, Joe has a desire to ensure that every client is set up for success in their treatment.

PHP Supervisor

John Mills

John is experienced in working with adults with severe traumatic brain injury, substance use disorder, and dual diagnosis. He began his career in the substance use/ mental health in 1989 in New England and held many roles throughout his career including Team Leader, Program Director and Director of Patient Care. In his previous role, John supervised the day-to-day operations of a large department consisting of 90 direct care staff and two recovery residences. He was also previously a Crisis Prevention Instructor and an Anger Management Facilitator. John is experienced in CARF accreditation and DCF licensure and is familiar with the 12 step Recovery Model. He is passionate about helping people with disabilities and ensuring they are treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

Admissions Counselor

Jorge A. Vázquez-López, BA

With a professional background in both luxury hospitality and residential treatment admissions, Jorge Vázquez-López is distinguished by his passion for excellence in customer service and his constant striving to exceed client expectations. In addition, he has extensive experience working with complicated clinical cases and is accustomed to working with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Jorge is currently enrolled in Palm Beach Atlantic University where he is pursuing a Master’s of Science in Mental Health.

Admissions Counselor

Kaleigh Dietz, MEd, CRC

Kaleigh Dietz is an Admissions Counselor at Lifeskills South Florida. Kaleigh originally joined the Lifeskills team as an Intake Coordinator, where she welcomed clients to Lifeskills and helped guide them through the intake process. Kaleigh brings experience in concierge patient care and hopes to bring a concierge experience to clients here at Lifeskills, while also creating a warm and welcoming environment for them to begin their healing process. Kaleigh graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Master’s in Counselor Education and is also a Master’s level Certified Rehabilitation Counselor in the state of Florida. Kaleigh is also in the process to obtain her Mental Health clinical license in the state of Florida.

Nutritionist

Karen Gauci, MPH, RD, LD

Karen is the owner and president of 2001 Nutrition Services, Inc., a company with a philosophy of providing education and counseling in all areas related to nutrition. Karen is a licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist, with a master’s degree in Public Health. Her specialties include nutritional evaluation, advice and diet recommendations for weight management, chronic disease risk reduction, health promotion and wellness, sports nutrition, pediatrics, eating disorders, substance abuse, and psychiatric problems. She previously traveled around the world to train personal chefs in the preparation of foods low in fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. She also helps in menu planning, label reading, and proper portion control. Not only is she the nutritionist at Lifeskills South Florida, but she is also a nutritional consultant at the Palm-Aire Spa Resort in Pompano Beach, Florida. Karen is the author of the cookbook, “Delicious Nutritious Spa Recipes from the Spa at Palm-Aire.” A few years ago, Karen wrote a program for large corporations to help lower their health cost entitled “Superitis, A 5 Star Plan for Better Health”. She is a frequent speaker at corporate conventions and has appeared in programs for Toyota, The American Cancer Society, and Northern Trust Bank. Karen works with professional athletes and has consulted for the NFL’s Chris Carter’s FAST Program to increase athletic performance.

Director of Nursing

Michelle Williams, RN-BC

Michelle has over 37 years of experience working as a Registered Nurse in Psychiatry and Addictions. She is nationally Board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse. Michelle has worked in both the public and private sectors in a wide variety of settings which include Inpatient hospitals, Community Mental Health Centers, Detox Facilities and Residential Treatment Centers. She has worked in various capacities treating individuals with acute and chronic mental illness, co-occurring disorders, and addiction. Michelle worked previously at Lifeskills South Florida for over 16 years and now returns in the capacity of Admissions Director. She returns with a mission to assist clients in gaining admission to excellent evidence based treatment so they can return to their optimum level of functioning.

Primary Therapist

Marie Valsaint, PsyD

Dr. Marie Valsaint is a primary therapist at Lifeskills South Florida. She earned her undergraduate degree in both psychology and sociology from Florida Atlantic University (FAU). She completed her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical psychology at Alliant International University. Dr. Marie has diverse experience working in residential settings providing evidenced based therapies. She loves to incorporate trauma-informed, culturally sensitive care and mindfulness into her work in order to assist her clients in reaching their full potential.

In her free time, she loves to travel to different states in the country and spend time with her partner, young daughter and their pet (Mia). She also loves to find ways to incorporate her culture into her daily living.

Lead Admissions Counselor

Lara Eisenberg, MSW

For several years, Lara worked in a treatment setting with adults suffering from mental health and substance abuse dependency issues. Shortly after beginning her career at Lifeskills as a clinical intern, she was introduced to the clinical and admissions team. Her work at Lifeskills allows her the opportunity to work with clients and witness the transformation they make and the strength they have as they journey to recovery. Lara received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida followed by her Master of Social Work degree from Florida Atlantic University. She is also intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy by The Linehan Institute. Lara looks to continue working in the field of Social Work and receiving her license as a Clinical Social Worker.

Associate Clinical Director

Kristen Gurdak, PhD-ABD, LCSW

Kristen Gurdak is the Associate Clinical Director of Lifeskills South Florida. She is a licensed clinical social worker and intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy by The Linehan Institute. Mrs. Gurdak is concurrently a Ph.D. candidate at New York University specializing in community integration for those with serious mental illness. Mrs. Gurdak brings her clinical expertise and research knowledge to the Lifeskills team with several years of clinical social work experience and peer-reviewed published research conducted through Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and New York University School of Social Work examining social determinants of health, serious mental illness, and community. Mrs. Gurdak has a wide array of clinical and administrative experience in community mental health settings, mental health outpatient services, inpatient rehabilitation, and in private clinical practice. She believes in a client-centered integrative approach to treatment to create a life worth living. Kristen enjoys traveling and exploring different cultures – she has visited over 10 countries.

Family Therapist

Krista Valz, PsyD, CRT-Trained

Dr. Valz is a licensed clinical psychologist and earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Her training has included individual and group work in a variety of settings including psychiatric care, outpatient mental health centers and residential levels of care. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center where her clinical focus was forensic psychology and worked at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, FL with a clinical concentration on neuropsychological testing. Dr. Valz is trained in Cognitive Remediation Therapy. At Lifeskills, she facilitates specialized groups for clients diagnosed with bipolar and psychotic disorders, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia at both the residential and outpatient levels of care.

Outpatient Primary Therapist

Reid Boland, MS, LMHC, REBT-Trained

As a Primary Therapist at Lifeskills South Florida, Reid brings a unique perspective to the clinical team. Reid earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Miami University and his Master of Science in Applied Psychology at Lynn University. Following an intensive clinical internship at Lifeskills South Florida, Reid has provided both case management support and clinical care. Reid is REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy) Trained through the Albert Ellis Institute in New York City. He has worked with both young adults and adult dual-diagnosis clients and also has an interest in social anxiety and personality disorders. Over the years, Reid has worked in several settings including as a studio engineer while working on Music Row in Nashville, TN.  Given Reid’s passion and musical expertise, he currently shares his office with the Lifeskills South Florida Outpatient Program’s music studio.

Group Leader

Rabbi Brandon Gaines

Rabbi Brandon Gaines has been a teacher, leader, guide, and source of coaching and motivation for over 30 years.  He possesses a Master’s Degree in Chinese Medicine, as well as a Rabbinical ordination from Yeshivah Pirchei Shoshanim of Israel.

He was the first black belt of Martial Arts master, Tom Bloom, a national champion who was amongst the first wave of students who graduated under Grand Master Chuck Norris. Brandon trained diligently with Master Bloom for over 15 years culminating in the obtaining of a 3rd degree Black Belt in Korean American Tang Soo Do. Additionally, he obtained a Black Belt in Ninjutsu under Master Michael Cairns (top student of legendary Martial Artist Frank Dux), as well as certification in Kung Fu Northern style Long Fist under Master Jonathan Wong.

Using these skills, Rabbi Brandon Gaines has mentored and encouraged those with mental health and substance abuse issues, helping them heal and prevent relapse. He is skilled and has a successful track record in utilizing experiential therapies in residential settings.

He moved to southern Florida with his wife and 4 children from California and has brought his talents and experience to LifeSkills.

Primary Therapist

Nicolle Goldfinger, PsyD

Dr. Nicolle Goldfinger is a Primary Therapist at Lifeskills South Florida. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from The George Washington University and both her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Nicolle utilizes evidenced-based approaches, which can be tailored to each client’s individualized needs including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT). Dr. Goldfinger has an extensive history of treating clients with mental health issues and addiction, including substance abuse and eating disorders. She has almost 15 years experience in the field and her clinical effectiveness has helped her clients heal and develop the skills for remaining successful post-treatment. She is known for fostering a therapeutic alliance with her clients, that encourages both trust, support and empathy. Dr. Nicolle is a Florida native and enjoys being outside in the Florida sunshine!

Family Therapist

Mirella Ezeta, PsyD

Dr. Mirella Ezeta is a Family Therapist at Lifeskills South Florida. She earned her Master of Science in Mental Health and Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She also was trained in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) at the Albert Ellis Institute in New York.

She has been providing individual, family, and group therapy for almost 20 years for individuals with severe emotional problems, trauma experiences, and addiction diagnoses.

In her work as a clinician, she considers the crucial for the client’s recovery. working with the family system allows her to teach strategies for effective communication and the development of healthy relationships. Her passion for attachment issues also is reflected in her ability to develop and retrain healthy attachment within family members.

Dr. Mirella is bilingual and has expansive experience working with diverse and multicultural families.

Director of Outpatient Services

Miguel Nerys, LMHC, NCC, DBT-Intensively Trained, EMDR-Trained

Miguel is the Director of Outpatient Services at Lifeskills South Florida, specializing in addiction and trauma. A Licensed Mental Health counselor and National Certified Counselor, he brings a wide array of experience from the mental health and addiction field. He earned both his undergraduate and master’s degree from Lynn University. Miguel is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy by The Linehan Institute and is a nationally trained EMDR therapist. He has worked in a trauma-specific unit of a community mental health organization dealing with abused children and their families and has also worked with active duty military at a psychiatric facility in North Carolina. He has mostly recently worked with relapsing clients that are treatment resistant. Miguel has traveled to Cambodia and Vietnam to establish a foundation for the poor and provide training on the western practice of psychology. Additionally, he has volunteered for the Big Brother Big Sister organization in providing child support in Boca Raton, Florida. In his spare time, he enjoys listening to a good TED Talk/Podcast and enjoys astronomy and photography.

Osceola House Manager

Ted Monticello, BS

As the Osceola House Manager, Ted focuses on assisting clients in developing a lifestyle of wellness and independence. He has over 22 years of experience and is well versed in multiple accreditation processes. Working in residential, PHP and Outpatient levels of care has allowed Ted to gain expertise in recovery, legal, case management, and programmatic issues. Ted graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Fitness Management from Northern Michigan University. At Lifeskills South Florida, he brings a focus on supporting clients, building team, and teaching our clients skills for life.

Primary Therapist

Tara Alhadeff, LMHC, CAI, DBT-Intensively Trained

Tara Alhadeff has almost 20 years of clinical experience in both residential and outpatient settings. Tara is known as a skillful motivator, leading clients to examine their current patterns and supporting them as they re-calibrate for coping with daily challenges. She has extensive interest in working with those experiencing co-occurring disorders and their families. She utilizes evidenced based approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy and Motivational Enhancement Therapy. Her extensive experience in Recovery Coaching supports clients as they move out of the pre-contemplation stage of change.

Tara brings an expertise in Intervention as she has completed intensive training and is certified as an ARISE (A Relational Intervention Sequence for Engagement) Interventionist. This has supported her treatment of clients requiring behavioral interventions and those suffering with addictions in the most effective manner. Ms Alhadeff is also a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). She received her bachelor’s degree from Boston University and her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Tara is artistic and creative and enjoys spending time with her family.

Alumni Relations Manager

Stefan Glamp

Stefan leads Odyssey’s efforts in developing the alumni communities at each of their facilities. Stefan’s approach sustains treatment effectiveness by providing timely, systematic, and supportive engagement forall clients who have completed treatment. With extensive experience developing and directing robust alumni communities in the addiction and mental health fields, he focuses on engaging people withintheir specific recovery journeys and developing community partnerships with a belief that long-term recovery is an attainable life goal.

Outpatient Lead Clinician/Family Therapist

Sheryl Gross, MS

Sheryl earned her bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of South Florida and a Master of Science Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. She focuses on building better family relationships and dynamics, improving communication styles, and supporting necessary therapeutic interventions. Sheryl is highly skilled in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Enhancement Therapy techniques in her approach with clients and families. She has more than a decade of experience in effectively treating addictions, trauma, and severe mental health issues. Sheryl supports motivating and empowering clients and families to make the healthiest and most proactive choices for their lives. When not working, Sheryl enjoys family time with her husband and daughters and exploring family activities in South Florida.

Chief Operating Officer

Sergio Muriel, LMHC, CAP

Sergio joined Lifeskills South Florida, with over 20 years of healthcare experience, including 10 years in leadership roles. Prior to joining Lifeskills, Sergio worked as Executive Director of a mental health facility and oversaw the strategic growth and vision, as well as day-to-day operations of the company. He was directly involved in developing the mental health component of the company, helping many struggling individuals and families find the care they needed.

Sergio is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Addiction Professional, trained in EMDR. Sergio graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Master’s degree in Education, specializing in Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counseling. Sergio continues to stay involved in our local community through various organizations, such as Miami-Dade County in 2007, “2007 Employee of the year”; Lindsey Hopkins Education Center-School Advisory Council in 2010 “Appreciation Award; and Miami-Dade County, Mayor and Board of County Commissioners in 2009 “Appreciation Award”. His passion is in helping individuals and families that have been affected by mental health and substance use. He is also fluent in English and Spanish.

Primary Therapist

Sandra Bernstein, LCSW, REBT-Trained, DBT-Intensively Trained

With over 15 years of mental health and addiction experience, Sandra is a primary therapist providing individual, and group therapy utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), MI, and Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT) modalities and solution-focused techniques. She is an expert in CBT, working in exposure therapy especially with anxiety and mood issues. Sandra has worked in individual and group settings in outpatient mental health centers and residential levels of care. She has managed family counseling and outpatient programs monitoring the delivery of clinical services to youth and their families. She has also been a Qualified Clinical Supervisor providing clinical supervision to therapists for licensure. Sandy is REBT Trained through the Albert Ellis Institute. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Temple University and her Master of Social Work at Barry University.

Primary Therapist

Robert Bruno, PsyD

Dr. Robert Bruno has his expertise in serving clients with mental health issues and substance dependency. He has been immersed in this work for the last 11 years. He graduated from Florida State University in 2009 with a double major in Psychology and Biology. Dr. Bruno then earned his Masters in Professional Psychology and his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from William James College in Newton, MA between 2014 and 2019. He devoted a portion of his career in community mental health on a Mobile Crisis Team for over 5 years. Dr Bruno obtained valuable experience becoming an expert in crisis intervention techniques and working with those living with severe mental illness, mood disorders and personality disorders. Professionally, he utilizes evidenced based approaches and has focused on the process of a true multidisciplinary approach to symptom reduction and treatment. Dr. Bruno has returned to South Florida to serve the community that first gave him the drive to help those living with mental health issues. He also enjoys playing piano, camping, fishing and spending time with his wife in the beautiful South Florida weather.

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